2020 Drug Addiction Trends in Massachusetts

By Published On: March 19th, 2016Categories: Drug Addiction, Trends / Data

For many years in Massachusetts, drug use was rising at an alarming rate, with no clear explanation or end in sight. In 2018 and 2019, we started to see an overall decline in drug use. But, despite this encouraging downward trend, opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts are still twice the national average, with thousands of people each year passing away from heroin, opioid use and other drugs. To battle heroin addiction and opioid misuse one must first understand how drug addiction works.

Fentanyl & Heroin

An important point to understand is that the opioid epidemic, while rampant across the country, varies by state. For Massachusetts, one of the most noticeable drug-use trends is the appearance of fentanyl, an extremely potent, synthetic opioid, found in prescription and illicit drugs. Rather than being used as a standalone drug, it is usually mixed with other drugs to make them stronger, often without the user’s knowledge.

For a long time, heroin use was one of the biggest drug use problems in the Commonwealth. But now, fentanyl is taking its place. Heroin is still the second most common cause of opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts, but now, it is also one of the drugs often laced with fentanyl.

The entire New England region, including Massachusetts, has seen a dangerous uptick in opioid-related deaths. Recent data shows that all six New England states have opioid-related deaths higher than the national average, and the region is in the top 15 states for fentanyl-related deaths. Five New England states are in the top 10, including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and Connecticut.

The Stigma of Addiction

There have always been misconceptions about why people turn to drugs and the stigma of addiction often leads people to blame those who are afflicted. But now we know that there are many genetic and environmental factors which contribute to people developing a substance use disorder. As to why the numbers in Massachusetts are high, it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly the cause. Experts often look to poor economic outlooks as a cause for spikes in drug use, but the Bay State currently has a reasonably strong economy. The reason may be a confluence of factors, including some economic struggles and unemployment, as well as an uptick in physician-prescribed opioids, and the fact that Massachusetts is home to established drug routes, making our population more vulnerable.

We are still exploring and studying the causes of addiction, but we do know that the result is not the fault of those afflicted, as we have been taught to think for so many years. The stigma of addiction itself can be a factor in making addiction worse, with people feeling too ashamed to ask for help and seek treatment. The fact is that there are millions of Americans with substance use disorders, each one with a different background and different challenges. We need to start thinking of substance use disorders as a public health crisis, not as a personal failing, if we are ever going to start improving these devastating numbers.

Early Education on Drug Use

Many teenagers and young adults experiment with drug use, which only makes them more susceptible to developing an addiction later in life. Massachusetts has floated several ideas to curb drug use among its teenagers, such as drug screenings at schools, but the most effective measure is education. Teaching parents about signs to look for in their children regarding drug use; ways to talk to them about it; and what resources are available to them, is a more effective strategy than instituting new laws.

Seeking Addiction Treatment

We have a wide range of treatment options and resources for people with addiction and their loved ones. As difficult as it can be to admit you or a loved one is struggling, it is the only way to get help. We provide individualized treatment to address each person’s needs while drawing on their strengths. We also offer continuing care resources, in order to help clients sustain their recovery following inpatient treatment.

Our goal is to help our clients across New England get access to the treatment they need, at whatever stage of recovery. Rehab is the best way to overcome your addiction to drugs or alcohol, and New England Recovery Center is ready to help you do it. Call us today.


If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, call us today at 1-877-MyRehab and we can help guide you on the path to recovery. We have an immediate availability of beds, call today!

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